Vladimir Putin’s regime has become increasingly adept at deploying a whole range of practices that are more common among crime syndicates than permanent members of the UN Security Council.
In some cases, as with the hacking, this involves the Kremlin subcontracting organized crime groups to do things the Russian state cannot do itself with plausible deniability. And in others, it involves the state itself engaging in kidnapping, extortion, blackmail, bribery, and fraud to advance its agenda.
Spanish prosecutor Jose Grinda has noted that the activities of Russian criminal networks are virtually indistinguishable from those of the government.
“It’s not so much a mafia state as a nationalized mafia,” Russian organized crime expert Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and co-host of the Power Vertical Podcast, said in a recent lecture at the Hudson Institute.
… “He’s identifying a whole series of potential trouble spots around the world, places that matter to the West, and is essentially indicating that he can either be a good partner, if they’re willing to make a deal with him, or he can stir up more trouble.”
Many Russians admire such behaviour. As long as others are suffering, one’s own afflictions seem more tolerable.
The Russian government employs armies of hackers to attack the computer networks of international corporations and foreign governments. Entire warehouses full of internet trolls are paid to flood political websites, blogs, and forums with Kremlin spew. And the Russian government itself is indistinguishable from a giant criminal enterprise.
Russia is no Longer a Superpower
Russia’s GDP has shrunken smaller than that of Spain, Canada, or Australia — and is now comparable to Mexico’s, in $US terms. Imagine the suffering in any of those countries, if they attempted to bomb, invade, and terrorise most of the rest of the world, as Russia is doing.
Notice the steady decline of Russia’s GDP, at the same time as numbers of ethnic Russians are shrinking from the outside inward toward the central core of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“Their economy is getting worse, and Russia is isolated in a significant way. Not just from countries in Europe, but, as they get further engaged in a sectarian quagmire inside of Syria, they’re finding that the only friends that they have there to fight in a difficult fight with them is a floundering Syrian government and the Iranian regime,” he said. __ Source
Russia might be better thought of as a serial extortionist, similar to the US’ Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, than as a superpower.
Things can only get worse. Oil prices remain stubbornly lower than Russia’s fiscal breakeven. Global demand is likely to remain low, as global supply continues to exceed demand. Russia will have no way to pay its foreign debts, once its reserves wither to nothing in another year or two. China, Japan, and Germany are already beginning to consider the parts of Russia they wish to salvage for their own.
If Putin follows through on his threats against Belarus, he may well have invaded one country too many. Sanctions by the advanced world against Russia may then be ratcheted to the point that Russia’s elites — both inside the country and outside — may feel forced to unite to rid the nation of the parasite Putin, sometimes referred to as Weird Vlad Wankervich.
Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the federal Aids centre in Moscow, predicted this month that at least two million Russians are likely to be officially registered as HIV-positive within five years, and a total of three million will have the virus.
These are problems that afflict Russia’s youth — mainly those under the age of 30. There are not very many healthy Russian youth of military and child-bearing age to begin with. Russia’s lifestyle health scourges are not helping.
IV drug abuse, combined with alcoholism, tobacco abuse, and widespread suicidal despair, combines with the general gangsterism and corruption to increase Russia’s dysfunction. If radical Islamists follow through on their threats to release “dirty nuclear bombs” in Moscow and St. Petersburg — rendering the two largest cities uninhabitable — the Putin debacle would then be complete.
The economic outlook is negatively affected by widespread corruption. Independent experts name law enforcement agencies as the most corrupt institutions, followed by health care, education, housing and communal services. While some experts maintain that corruption consumes as much as 25 percent of Russia GDP, the World Bank puts this figure at 48 percent. Transparency International ranks Russia 136th in its Corruption Perception Index. __ Japan Times
Contrary to what you may have heard from Kremlin trolls and duplicitous grad students such as Karlin and Admomanis, Russia’s demographic problems have just begun. The Russian population is expected to nearly halve by 2050. And that is assuming that Putin’s Russia is not hit by a large-scale cataclysm of its own making, in the meantime.